As Team Mumbai and Team Bangalore square off in a potentially mouth-watering IPL clash at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday night, you can’t but marvel at how both teams are battling similar problems. Barring the fact that the hosts are third on the points table, compared to the men-in-red’s fifth, both Mumbai and Bangalore, have an identical tale to narrate in IPL 5.
The teams have overly depended on two batsmen to either set a big score or chase down totals. While Mumbai must thank Rohit Sharma (293 runs from 11 games @29.30) and Ambati Rayudu (208 runs from 11 matches @34.66) for scripting unbelievable heists, the visitors have engineered miraculous jailbreaks through the efforts of West Indies’ Chris Gayle (433 runs from 10 games) and talented South African, AB de Villiers (292 runs from 11 matches).
There’s another similarity in the form of underperforming captains, but world class spinners at the international level, leading the teams. Harbhajan Singh, captain of Mumbai, may have got 406 sticks in 98 Tests, but in 11 games this IPL, he has picked up five wickets at 50.20. Meanwhile, Team Bangalore skipper Daniel Vettori has also ‘grabbed’ five wickets at 47. He too has 359 Test scalps in 111 Tests.
Mind you, both have economy rates of 6.78 and 6.71 respectively , which for a spinner, are excellent. Vettori, though, even dropped
himself in the last game to accommodate Muralitharan and may do that again. Want more? Sample this. Both have an interesting home record against each other . Mumbai haven’t beaten Bangalore at their traditional home venues, Wankhede Stadium and the CCI. (They beat them in the semifinal of IPL three, but that was held at the DY Patil ground, which is not their home venue). Bangalore too haven’t beaten Mumbai at Chinnaswamy.
The two teams have also come off stunning wins over the weekend. Mumbai beat Chennai thanks to Dwayne Smith’s pyrotechnics in the last over, while Bangalore mastered Hyderabad, after De Villiers showed a combination of hockey, cricket and fencing skills during his 17-ball stay.
The one thing that separates the two teams though is bowling . Mumbai have perhaps the best T20 bowler in history, Lasith Malinga. With 20 wickets from just eight games, the Sri Lankan slinger, has made a stunning return after missing three games due to a back injury . He averages a surreal 8.45 per wicket and consumes a batsman every 9.4 balls. What’s more, in a format where an economy rate of seven runs per over, is considered acceptable, he concedes just 5.36 per over.
Any guesses who Harbhajan will throw the ball to if and when Gayle and De Villiers get going? With almost 60% of the matches ending in the last over, punters betting on another close finish should go home rich. PS: A word of caution for those sitting in the North and South stands. Wear a nose mask. With short straight boundaries, you’re right in Gayle’s zone.